Venelia

New day, new Amazon, as we keep seeing, on alternate days, the many characters appeared in Wonder Woman. Today we meet Venelia, another proud warrior we see fighting on Themyscira‘s beach against the German Army. Portrayed by Doutzen Kroes, Venelia is one of the many riders who fight bravely against the armed soldiers on Steve Trevor‘s trails, but apart from this small appearance we don’t see anything else of her (it’s not even entirely clear if she’s among the ones who survive the battle). In the comics, she has quite a weird history, as she appears both as an Amazon of Themyscira, and as an Amazon of Bana-Mighdall, with no indication if the two are different characters with the same name (unlikely, even if the first one is spelled Venilia), or one and the same who appears in both cities (unexplicable). Let’s see together.

As all the other Amazons, Venelia was born when some of the goddesses from Olympus decided to contain men’s thirst for violence and war: her soul once belonged to an unspecified woman who had fallen victim to men’s brutality, and her body was created directly from the goddesses, receiving all their blessings. She rose from the sea to keep peace in the World of Men, following her two queens along with her sisters. Then, the sacred island of the Amazons, Themyscira, was attacked by the army led by Herakles and Theseus, who tricked the Amazons and managed to capture and humiliate them. At this point, there are two different versions of the story. According to the first one, as the Amazons were freed by Athena, Venelia chose to be faithful to the goddess and to Queen Hippolyta, and she remained on Themyscira, renouncing to exact revenge on her attackers and rapers. In the following years, Themyscira became more and more isolated from the rest of the world, and Venelia never met another man. Her only known contact with the world outside of Themyscira was when Princess Diana came back home the first time, bringing along two friends, Julia and Vanessa Kapatelis, who studied the Amazons’ way of life. When the girls arrived on the island, it was the time of the Dive of the Nereids, a ritual meant to honor the goddesses of the sea: with all her sisters, Venelia reached the Cliffs of Poseidon and gracefully dove into the sea, paying her tribute to the Nereids who protected Themyscira’s waters. As she reemerged, she insisted that Vanessa made the jump after her, so that she could understand better Amazonian traditions. After this episode, she was never seen again.

In the second version of the story, Venelia wasn’t even born when Herakles and Theseus invaded Themyscira, as she was a descendant of the Amazons who had chosen to follow Queen Antiope in her bloody revenge against Men’s World. She was born in Bana-Mighdall, a new city for the Amazons in Egypt, protected from the local goddesses and devoted to a military life: mercenaries and weaponsmiths, these Amazons were fierce warriors, who enslaved the men they defeated in combat keeping them for reproduction, and leaving only the female babies alive. Venelia witnessed an Amazon of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, arriving in Bana-Mighdall to look for an enemy of hers, the feral Cheetah, and she joined the others in trying to kill her, fueled by all the myths about Themyscira circulating among the rogue Amazon tribe. When the god Hermes attacked Bana-Mighdall, making its position known to its enemies and thus causing its destruction, Venelia found herself homeless, and accepted Circe‘s offer to exact revenge and attack Themyscira to make it their new home. Circe, however, betrayed the Amazons, and transported them all in the Demon Dimension, where they fought for ten years before being freed by Wonder Woman. Little more than a child when she marched on Themyscira, Venelia emerged from the Demon Dimension as a grown up woman, and she had a different attitude towards the Amazons of Themyscira after fighting side by side with them for a decade of war. Venelia was allowed to live on Themyscira with her sisters. Soon, Queen Hippolyta announced that a new Contest would have been held for the title of Wonder Woman. Needless to say, Venelia participated, and she squared off pretty well: in the race around Themyscira, she was second only to Artemis, with Diana following at close range. On the last day of the Contest, however, Hippolyta had the race cross the mystical lands of Themyscira: first, Venelia had to fight the Harpies on her way, but just as she was sure she would have reached Artemis, a new foe appeared, the Gorgon Medusa…and literally in a blink of an eye, all Venelia’s ambitions faded as she turned to stone.

Venelia (or Venilia) is a proud Amazon, but her character differs much from a version or another: the Themyscirian one is a serious and pious woman, devoted to the gods and to her people, a peace-bringer who despises war; the Bana-Mighdallian is quite the opposite, a fierce mercenary who lives for the fight and who devotes herself to conflict and warmongering. As an Amazon, she possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes and durability, and she’s an expert in the use of any blade (the Bana-Mighdallian is also a proficient markswoman, while the Themyscirian is also immortal). Being it from a sacred city or another, Venelia is always loyal to the Amazons and her queen, committed to a sacred mission that crosses the centuries.

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